Tag Archives: 1876

Peppermint in 1875

From The Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, Volume IX, 1875-6, pages 127-130, a free Google ebook.


The peppermint that clothes the fields and scents the lanes in the parishes of Mitcham and Carshalton, although an indigenous plant in England, is not supposed to have been generally used until the middle of the last century, and afterwards, upon the recommendation of the English herbalists, it was introduced into Germany,
where it has since been employed in medicine. The experience of one hundred years has not detracted from the acknowledged excellence of the qualities of the plant, but has completely established its hold upon the tastes of all classes of the population, both high and low. There is said to be nothing new under the sun, and this adage is confirmed by all our discoveries amid the buried and mouldering antiquities of the past. It is not, therefore, any subject for surprise that amongst the classical authors we should meet with references to the peppermint. That universal naturalist Pliny has not allowed this herb to escape his attention, for he mentions in one of his books that it is not possible for a stranger to pay a visit in the country to a husbandman and there to partake—as no doubt he often did himself whilst upon his botanizing excursions — of the frugal fare offered without discovering that all meats from one end to the other of the table were seasoned with mint. He also tells us of the uses to which this plant was put in the dairies, where, being placed in the milk, it prevented the same from curding or turning sour, and this quality might be easily tested at the present day. It appears that Ovid, who was another lover of nature and depictor of rural scenes, in his story of Baucis and Philemon mentions that the rustics perfumed or scoured their tables with this herb before they sat down to supper. In these lines he says :

Then rubbed it o’er with newly gathered mint,
A wholesome herb, that breathed a grateful scent.

There are three different species—peppermint, spear mint or mintha mint, and pennyroyal, all cultivated in a similar manner. The mode of propagation is from young plants which spring from runners. Early in the spring, during the months of April and May, the plants are drawn and placed in rows, the space between varying
according to the custom of each grower from one foot to eighteen inches. One of the most experienced growers at Mitcham adopts the latter distance, which he finds more favorable to the strong and healthy growth of the plant. By placing them closer, although a larger number are contained upon an acre of land, the amount of produce is diminished by the crowding. The opportunity of showery weather should be taken to place the cuttings, each five or six inches in length, about half way into the earth. The first season they require to be constantly attended to during the weeding-time, and should receive six or more hoeings, which essential part of the
cultivation should be scrupulously attended to every succeeding year, otherwise the quality of the oil would be injured in the distilling process. In the months of October, November, and December the beds are trenched like asparagus, the earth being piled up between the trenches to the width of three or four feet and of sufficient depth to protect the roots during winter. The fields are ploughed
up and changed every five years, the first crop being generally the most abundant and the purest. The qualities of soil best suited are moist and loamy, and the effect produced by the soil is more striking in the case of peppermint than in any other plant. Two crops of peppermint standing side by side indicate when distilled considerable difference in the yield of oil; and the larger quantity is not
unfrequently obtained from that crop which presented the least promising appearance. It has been remarked by many growers both at Carshalton and Mitcham that peppermint plants raised at the latter place and laid out at the former, although an adjacent parish, yield a very different product when distilled, both in the aroma of the oil and the quantity obtained.

At Mitcham, which is the original seat of the cultivation, most growers supply large, but evidently insufficient, quantities of manure to their land; as the yield is continually diminishing others plant potatoes after peppermint, then renew the soil with manure and again plant peppermint. For some reasons, however, the productions is considerably reduced, although a walk of several miles
around the neighborhood, embracing Sutton, Bumstead, Wallington, and Beddington, will show that the peppermint and the lavender are peeping out in many places that were formerly occupied by ordinary agriculture. Within our knowledge persons have been obliged to give up their residence at Wallington, where, during certain months, the air has been found to be oppressive and unbearable in consequence of the perfume of the surrounding fields. The reverse has taken place at Mitcham, for, as we were informed, a large farm, consisting of more than a thousand acres, which was a few years ago laid out with lavender, peppermint, roses, camomile, etc.,
is now wholly employed for the production of the cereal crops, and the majority of growers, rather than incur the risk of this description of farming, prefer to lay out their land with culinary vegetables. The uncertainty of the seasons in England and the introduction of foreign produce are alleged as the causes of this change, but we should rather attribute it to some fault in the cultivation or else that
the earth has been exhausted of certain of its chemical properties. There is scarcely any prettier or more charming sight to be witnessed than an August morning or afternoon, when the sun is shining brightly upon the golden fields of wheat interspersed amongst the varied purple colors of the lavender, the sombre hues of the peppermint and the sparkling brilliancy of the white camomile flower.

Any person who wishes to satisfy his curiosity can easily do so by taking the rail to Wallington, Sutton, or Mitcham. At either place he cannot fail to be amply requited for the trouble and trifling expense incurred by such a short and accessible excursion from the metropolis.

The harvesting takes place during the months of July and August, according to the propitious character or otherwise of the season. The produce varies from four to six tons per acre, the average being five tons, but the amount of oil yielded bears no definite relation to the quantity of the plant. When the summer has proved
wet and cold, the plants, although bulky, have been known to produce only a small proportion of oil, and in other years, when the season has been warm and dry, the reverse has been the case, and small plants have yielded a double quantity of the oil. The spearmint produces about half as much as the peppermint, and it is therefore grown only in sufficient quantity to meet the actual demand, and in the absence of orders beforehand, the ground is otherwise appropriated. A native of this country, it may be seen growing wild in marshy places and around ponds. It has a strong aromatic odor, with a warm and slightly bitter taste, which is less pungent but more agreeable than that of peppermint.

The oil of spearmint, which is of a pale yellow or greenish color when fresh, becomes darker with age, and ultimately of a mahogany color, and is used for the same purpose as the peppermint. In the spring the young leaves and tops are used with salads, or mixed with certain dishes, such as peas, etc., or made to flavor soups. Pennyroyal is the least valuable of the three species of mint. This plant was formerly called “pudding grass,” from the old custom of using it in hog
puddings, also “run by the ground” and “lurk in the ditch,” from its creeping nature and preference for damp soils. How its name became converted is not known, but great quantities are said to have been brought to market from a common near London, called Mile’s End, in the time of Queen Elizabeth.

The peppermint plant is generally cut about the latter part of August, and placed in small cocks like those of hay, which are allowed to stand in the fields some days before being taken in for distillation. At the beginning of the present century there were no stills at Mitcham, and the herb was sold fresh. Since then many of these buildings have been erected both at Mitcham and Wallington, where the smoke from the chimneys may be seen during the harvest season. Messrs. Piesse & Lubin, the celebrated perfumers, of Bond Street, have a distillery upon the high road to Mitcham, where the process may be witnessed upon an introduction to the firm. The whole apparatus is exceedingly simple. It consists of a boiler for
raising steam, a still made of wood for receiving the charges of peppermint, a cooler for cooling the oil, and a receiver into which it flows. The plants are packed into the wooden still and trampled down with the feet. When a full charge is thus ready, the lid of the still is put on and steam admitted at the bottom by a pipe from the boiler. When the peppermint is heated to about 212 degrees Fahrenheit the essential oil passes over with the steam into a worm, which is placed in a cooler, and as it condenses into oil and water, it then passes out of the worm into a converted receiver, where the oil as it floats on the surface is lifted out with dippers, is then placed in tin cans, and becomes ready for sale. The refuse mint taken from the still is placed in piles, dried, and then makes tolorable fodder for

The consumption in this country, as may be supposed, is very considerable, for as many as 12,000 lbs. of the oil are imported from abroad. The quality of the English grown is, however, so superior that a large export likewise takes place. At the great French Exhibition of Industry, held in Paris in 1855, which might be regarded as a crucial test, in competition with such excellent perfumers as the French manufacturers are known to be, the oil prepared in this country was considered the best then exhibited.

There has lately been a new kind of crystallized peppermint oil introduced from Japan, but it is not known at present from which plant this oil is obtained ; but it is not greatly inferior in point of fragrance to the best Mitcham oil, and were a demand first to arise in this country from the confectioners and others, there is little doubt that it could be supplied at a lower price.

1876 auction of onions

Will Sell by Auction, at the Goat Inn, Mitcham Junction, on Thursday, March 23rd, at 5 p.m.,

THE GROWING CROP OF LISBON ONIONS, on nearly One-and-a-Half Acres of Land, in the occupation Mr. Buck, Beddington Comer. For (‘onditions of Sale see printed bills.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 18 March 1876 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1876 Manslaughter

Saturday 19th August 1876


Mr. G. Hull, the Surrey coroner, has held an inquest at the Prince of Wales, Mitcham, on the body of Mary Elizabeth Harvey, wife of James Harvey, labourer. Jane Robinson, daughter of the deceased by her first marriage, said that on the night of the 8th inst. her mother returned home after being out work all day. Harvey was indoors, and immediately seized witness and turned her out, declaring that she should never enter the house again. She then heard him quarrelling with her mother about a shilling, and he came out again and pushed witness to the ground, when deceased came to her, and he struck her several blows and knocked her down, and she died in few minutes afterwards. Corroborative evidence having been given, it was stated that deceased was a hardworking woman, very fond of her children, who were ill-used by Harvey, and that the latter worked very little, and seemed to live on the earnings of deceased, who had said that she had kept him for thirteen years. The jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter.”

Source: Aldershot Military Gazette – Saturday 19 August 1876 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Ravensbury Villas

The 1925 street directory describes the properties on the south side of Morden Road, heading west, away from the London Road.

Ravensbury terrace :
2, Ernest NICHOLAS
3, Mrs. Annie OAKES, shopkeeper
4, Ernest TAMPLIN

Ravensbury tavern, George Thomas DEEPROSE

..here is Ravensbury grove

Ravensbury villas
1, George EDWARDS
2, William WOODCOCK & Son, decorators
3, John George ATKINSON
4, Thomas GREEN, cycle repairer

here is bridge over River Wandle ….

This 1910 OS map shows a terrace of 4 houses just past Ravensbury Grove.

1910 OS map

This terrace can be seen in this clip from a Merton Memories photo, which looks east along the Morden Road. On the left is the Ravensbury Tavern pub.

clip from Merton Memories, photo reference Mit_​TomFrancis_​A13, copyright London Borough of Merton.

Although the Merton Memories webpage says the photo is around 1900, the name of the licensee of the pub can be seen as John Dent, who was licensee to 1876.

News Articles
From the Surrey Advertiser, Saturday 11th April 1874, via the British Newspaper Archives

At Nominal Reserves.— Mitcham, Surrey.

—Nineteen Villa Residences and Cottages, in the road, Mitcham, a most healthy locality, five minutes’ walk from the railway station.

MR. S. WALKER will Sell by Auction, at the Mart, on MONDAY, April 13, twelve for one, Nineteen Leasehold Villas and Cottages, known as Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, Ravensbury villas, term 91 years, ground rent £4 year each, estimated value £25 a year each ; eight Cottages, Nos. 2 to 16 (even numbers). Ravensbury grove, term 90 years, ground rent £20, producing £125 16s. per annum; and seven Cottages in Ravensbury-road, estimated to produce £80 a year, together with an improved ground rent of £3 10s. per annum, secured in seven adjoining cottages.

May be viewed, and particulars and conditions of sale obtained of R. Miller, Esq., Solicitor. 6, Copthall-court, E.C ; of Mr. John Wade, House Agent, Lower-green, Mitcham ; and the Auctioneer’s Offices, 61, Coleman-street, Bank, E.C.

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 15 April 1876

A Troublesome Fellow.

— At the Croydon Police Court, Monday, George Jones, of Ravensbury Villas, Mitcham, was charged with being drunk and creating a disturbance on Sunday morning.—P.c. 183 stated that at half past 12 o’clock on Sunday morning he was on duty in Merton-lane, when he heard a great noise, apparently that of lot of females screaming. As he was proceeding towards the spot, he was met by woman about forty years of age, who begged of him for God’s sake to come. When he got near the spot, he found the prisoner running away. He asked him what was the matter, and the prisoner replied, “Nothing.” Witness took him back, and found a man who was bleeding from a wound under the right eye. The man charged the prisoner with having assaulted him. Prisoner said, “All right, old pal! I shall square it with a sovereign in the morning.” Prisoner was very violent, and witness apprehended him to prevent further breach of the peace, which he thought was imminent. —Prisoner, in answer to the charge, alleged that the man referred to challenged him to fight, and struck him. The man afterwards came to him, and said he was sorry for having done so.The constable said the man referred to did not formally charge the prisoner with having assaulted him, he said he was unwilling to lose a day’s work. The prisoner, witness added, was a great source of trouble to the police at Mitcham.—The prisoner was bound over in the sum of £5 to keep the peace for three months, and was then discharged.

1911 Census for Private Albert Morgan.

Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

1876 A Drunken Woman

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 06 May 1876 from the British Newspaper Archives (subscription required)

A Drunken Woman.

At the Croydon Police Court, on Tuesday, Sophia Coffins, described a married woman, living Rock terrace, Queen’s-road, Mitcham, was charged with being drunk on the 29th of April.

P.-c. 140 W stated that at five minutes past 11 o’clock Saturday night he found the prisoner drunk in the street and shouting. She created great disturbance, and caused crowd of persons to assemble round her. He requested her to go away, but as she would not he took her into custody. On the Saturday previous witness had occasion to speak to her, and she then said that her husband was dying.

The Bench convicted the prisoner, and ordered her to pay a fine of 2s. 6d. and costs, 2s. 6d.

1876 White Hart After Hours Card Game Busted

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 06 May 1876


Guests at the White Hart.

At the Petty Sessions, on Saturday, Benjamin Gay, landlord of the White Hart, Mitcham, was summoned for having his house open at prohibited hours; and Albert Lowe, gentleman, of Baron-grove, Mitcham, James Bridger, gentleman, Manor House, Mitcham, and Charles Bidder, gentleman, of Sutton road, Mitcham, were summoned for being on the said premises, on the 22nd April.

—P.-c, Nelson (186 W) stated that on the 21st April be had orders to keep observation on the White Hart Hotel. About twenty minutes to 12 on the night in question saw a gentleman enter the house. About hour later saw a light, and heard voices in the front room upstairs, the conversation being respecting a game of cards, he heard one person say, “I know he played the king.”

—Police-sergeant Henry Foster (29 W) stated that he went to the White Hart Hotel about two o’’clock, and asked the landlord who he had upstairs. Mr. Gay said he had some lodgers. Witness said he desired to inspect the house, and going upstairs he found the three defendants, Bridger, Bidder, and Lowe, seated round a table, playing cards. There were two champagne bottles, four glasses, and some cigars before them. Witness asked, for their names and addresses, which they gave him, but Mr. Bridger gave the name of Thompson. On asking Mr. Gay why had the other defendants there at that time, said, “I am going away, and I entertaining these gentlemen guests,” The other defendants said that was quite correct. About twenty minutes to three witness met the defendants Lowe and Bidder in Baron-grove, about thirty yards from the White Hart, going in the direction of their homes. They said nothing then. Witness reported the case, and they were summoned.

—Police sergt. Wells (4 W) corroborated the evidence given by the previous witnesses.

—Mr. Gay said all the gentlemen were playing at billiards, and as he had disposed of his business and was soon going away, he said he should like to stand a glass of champagne. They did have some champagne and smoked a cigar or two.

—The magistrates ordered Mr. Gay to pay a fine of 40s. and 9s. costs, and produce his license before them Monday morning. Lowe, Bidder, and Bridger were each ordered to pay a fine of 20s. and 9s. costs.

Dr Thomas Hamilton

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 13 March 1875

Lamented Death.

—We regret to announce this week the death of T. W. Hamilton, Esq., M.D., which occurred at his residence at Mitcham, on Sunday last, at the age of 54 years, and after a short illness. The funeral took place on Wednesday last, at Mitcham churchyard, the deceased gentleman’s remains being conveyed to the grave members of the police force. The Oddfellows were represented in the churchyard, and a large number of parishioners were also present for the purpose of testifying their respect for the deceased. The service having been performed the Rev. D. F. Wilson, the vicar, the body was consigned to its last resting place, the grave. Dr. Hamilton was for many years the principal medical practitioner in Mitcham, and his death has occasioned universal regret amongst all classes. Perhaps his loss will be felt most keenly by the poor, to whom he was endeared by many acts of kindness and benevolence, and with whom his memory will be ever sacred.

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 28 October 1876

A second meeting of the promoters of the Hamilton Memorial Fund was held at Dr. Smith’s schoolroom, Upper Mitcham, on Thursday, the 19th inst, when communication from the vicar, Rev. D. F. Wilson, was read, suggesting that it should take the form of a stained window in the church, and an offer assisting liberally in raising additional subscriptions, but it was considered, after lengthened conversation, that the fund hitherto collected could not diverted from its purpose, namely to place a stone over the remains of the deceased doctor in the churchyard. A design in granite was then selected, at about the cost of and order given to Mr. R. Chart to erect it without delay.